sport

Worthington demands step up

York boss Nigel Worthington has called on his players to "step into the arena and have a go" when they bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit at Fleetwood on Friday after being caught cold in their rescheduled Sky Bet League 2 play-off semi-final.

Fleetwood winger Matty Blair struck the only goal early in the second half to sink his former club in the first leg at Bootham Crescent.

Blair, who scored the winner to send the Minstermen back into the Football League in the Conference play-off final against Luton two years ago, bundled home Antoni Sarcevic's low shot in the 50th minute.

It was no less than Graham Alexander's side deserved and - although they had to withstand a second-half onslaught - Fleetwood's slicker football merited their slender advantage.

Worthington blamed his players' poor start on stage-fright after seeing their 17-game unbeaten run halted.

He said: "You've got to step into that arena and go and play, we were a few light and made it hard work for ourselves and the players have got to learn from that.

"There's a show to put on, go and join in with it, step forward and have a go.

"You're better having a go and maybe losing the game than safety first."

York striker Calvin Andrew spurned a golden first-half chance and Michael Coulson and substitute Ryan Bowman also squandered rare opportunities after the break.

"We're very much in the tie and that's where we wanted it," Worthington added.

"Obviously not a goal for them to the good, but it's happened, the response was excellent in the second half.

"I thought we were slow out of the blocks, there were a few nerves about, there were a few shy on their performance, but we got that sorted out at half-time and then we were more like the York that went 17 unbeaten.

"So we've got to make sure we start from the first whistle on Friday night.

"We weren't ourselves in the first half. They won second balls and then they scored, but we responded and the pressure was relentless.

"Big games demand people that need to stand up and be counted and we were one or two light in the first half and you can't have that, we were second best all over the park.

"But second half we were the York of old and it's important we start like that on Friday. I'm very much looking forward to it."

Fleetwood boss Alexander felt his side's victory could have been by a bigger margin.

Cod Army striker Iain Hume pulled a shot wide when one-on-one and forward partner David Ball was off target when well placed soon after Blair had broken the deadlock.

"The performance was very good and the only disappointing aspect was that it could have been more than one," said Alexander.

"We had chances to add to our goal, but we're very happy with 1-0 against a team that had been on such a long unbeaten run.

"We have to do it all again on Friday. It's a 180-minute contest, we're leading at half-time and that's it.

"The players know that and the staff know that and we fully expect York to come at us again.

"I've been in the play-offs plenty of times as a player and I know there's a lot of twists and turns."